Our Catholic Church is a church of martyrs and at this time of year we learn more and more of those many who lived for Christ and sacrificed themselves for the Good News. For example, today we have the following recorded as being martyred:
•Martyrs of Africa – 4 saints
•Martyrs of Antioch – 10 saints
•Martyrs of Damascus – 11 beati
•Martyrs of Nicopolis – 45 saints
•Martyrs of Nitria – 5 saints
•Martyrs of Tomis – 45 saints
•Seven Holy Brothers – 7 martyrs
This period of our ecclesiastical history is known as the reign of Terror –a consequence of the fierce anti-catholic persecution of the French Revolution. Plus, we have more martyrs from July 9 to 26 – 103 Martyrs of China; 25 Franciscan Martyrs of China: priests, friars, nuns, seminarians and lay people, murdered together for their faith in the Boxer Rebellion; 19 Martyrs of Gorkum hanged on July 9, 1572 in the Netherlands by Calvinists for loyalty to the Pope and for their belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist; 32 Martyrs of Orange: sixteen Ursuline sisters, thirteen Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, two Bernardine sisters and one Benedictine sister guillotined during the French Revolution; A Capuchin martyred by the Nazis in WWII; Several martyrs of the 16th century English persecution of the Church: layman, Carthusian; Several martyrs of the early Church
Yesterday and today we liturgically recalled the Ursuline nuns martyred in the French Revolution known as the Martyrs of Orange. The sisters were guillotined on 9 and 10 July 1794 in Orange, Vaucluse, France.
They climbed the scaffold with joy, singing and praying for their persecutors who admired their courage : “These rascals die with laughter!”
Arrested for refusing to take the oath repudiating their catholic faith, all the sisters were condemned to the guillotine. Their ages ranged from 31 to 70. For the previous 2 years they had prepared for this hour – expelled from their convents and living a life of prayer and semi-destitution. And they went to their death with courage and serenity.
Among the Ursulines,
on July 9, Sister Sainte-Mélanie, from Bollène, (Madeleine de Guilhermier, born in Bollène en 1733, 61 years of age) and Sister Marie-des-Anges, from Bollène, (Marie-Anne de Rocher, born in Bollène in 1755, 39 years of age),
on July 10, Sister Sainte-Sophie, from Bollène, (Gertrude d’Alauzier, born in Bollène in 1757, 37 years of age) and Sister Agnès, from Bollène, (Sylvie de Romillon, born in Bollène in 1750, 44 years of age),
on July 11, Sister Sainte-Sophie, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Marguerite d’Albarède, born in Saint-Laurent-de-Carnols in 1740, 54 years of age),
on July 12, Sister Saint-Bernard, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Jeanne de Romillon, born in Bollène in 1753, 41 years of age),
on July 13, Sister Saint-François, from Bollène, (Marie-Anne Lambert, born in Pierrelatte in 1742, 52 years of age) and Sister Sainte-Françoise, lay Sister from Carpentras, (Marie-Anne Depeyre, born in Tulette en 1756, 38 years of age),
on July 15, Sister Saint-Gervais, Superior of the Ursulines of Bollène (Anastasie de Roquard, born in Bollène in 1749, 45 years of age),
on July 16, lay Sisters from Bollène, Sister Saint-Michel, (Marie Anne Doux, born in Bollène in 1738, 56 years of age), Sister Saint-André, (Marie Rose Laye, born in Bollène in 1728, 66 years of age); Sister Madeleine, from Pernes, (Dorothée de Justamond, born in Bollène in 1743, 51 years of age),
on July 20, Sister Saint-Basile, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Anne Cartier, born in Livron in 1733, 61 years of age),
on July 26, Sister Catherine, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Marie-Madeleine de Justamond, born in Bollène in 1724, 70 years of age), Sister Claire, from Bollène (Claire Dubas, born in Laudun in 1727, 67 years of age) and Sister du Cœur-de-Jésus, Superior of the Ursulines of Sisteron (ElisabethThérèse Consolin, born in Courthézon in 1736, 58 years of age).
With the Church at prayer,
Lord our God, you have given to the Blessed Ursuline Martyrs of Orange the strength of overcoming the trial of martyrdom: grant us, through their prayer, to be firm in our faith and fervent in our charity, so that we may share with them the joys of eternal life.